Put the tourists of Trinidad in a room and you’ll have an awkward party: on one side will be wallflower bird-watchers tangled in camera and binocular straps; and on the other – the side with the bar – you’ll have the party-hound Carnival fans turning up the music and trying on their spangly costumes.
But here’s the secret: there’s much more to Trinidad than is seen through binoculars or beer goggles. Of course, the swamps and forests are a bird-watcher’s dream, and Port of Spain’s Carnival will blow your mind. Yet Trinidad is also laden with verdant hiking and cycling trails to spectacular waterfalls and deserted bays. The rural, untouristed northeast coast harbors rugged beaches of shocking beauty, while the southwest showcases the island’s Indian culture, with fragrant curry wafting through the air and flamboyant temples popping up out of nowhere.
With the booming oil and gas industry as its real bread and butter, Trinidad tends to treat tourists in a blasé manner. And to some visitors that’s a boon. Genuine adventure awaits you here if you choose to accept.
Shaped like a molar tooth sitting on its side, Trinidad is surrounded by four bodies of water – the Caribbean (north), Atlantic Ocean (east), Gulf of Paria (west) and the Columbus Channel (south) – making each coast a little different. The bustling capital of Port of Spain sits along a wide bay on the Gulf, and most of the country’s better-known attractions are within an hour’s drive. In fact, you could drive from one side of the country to the other in less than three hours, maybe less if you’re a pro at bumpy, winding roads.